Sunday, June 22, 2014

Corpus Christi and Transubstantiation: Food photos, Japanese fake foods, vegetarian dishes, and dog's meat

A. Corpus Christi and Transubstantiation

Today we celebrate Corpus Christi Sunday.  In this feast we honor Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament.  The basis for this feast is the Dogma of Transubstantiation:
1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."206 1377 The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.207
St. Aquinas explains this in more detail in his Summa Theologiae:
I answer that, The presence of Christ's true body and blood in this sacrament cannot be detected by sense, nor understanding, but by faith alone, which rests upon Divine authority. Hence, on Luke 22:19: "This is My body which shall be delivered up for you," Cyril says: "Doubt not whether this be true; but take rather the Saviour's words with faith; for since He is the Truth, He lieth not." Now this is suitable, first for the perfection of the New Law. For, the sacrifices of the Old Law contained only in figure that true sacrifice of Christ's Passion, according to Hebrews 10:1: "For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things." And therefore it was necessary that the sacrifice of the New Law instituted by Christ should have something more, namely, that it should contain Christ Himself crucified, not merely in signification or figure, but also in very truth....He promises us His bodily presence as a reward, saying (Matthew 24:28): "Where the body is, there shall the eagles be gathered together." Yet meanwhile in our pilgrimage He does not deprive us of His bodily presence; but unites us with Himself in this sacrament through the truth of His body and blood. Hence (John 6:57) he says: "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him." Hence this sacrament is the sign of supreme charity, and the uplifter of our hope, from such familiar union of Christ with us.
After consecration, what we see as bread is not anymore bread thought it appears, tastes, and feels like bread: the appearance remains but the substance has changed.

B. What Transubstantiation Is

Transubstantiation may be difficult to understand.  So let us give examples that would help us understand this concept:

1.  Food Photos

In Facebook you usually see photos of food.  The food looks real.  You can see the meat, vegetables, bread, rice, plates, and utensils.  But it is not really food.  It is just light from the computer screen that can be decomposed into RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) tiny light sources the size of pixels.  In this case, the substance of the food has changed and was transformed to light pixels.

2.  Japanese Fake Foods

The Japanese are inventive people.  Food displayed for customers normally grow stale after a few hours.  So what the Japanese did is to is to make fake foods:
Plastic food replicas appear in the windows and display cases of establishments which serve food throughout Japan. Once made from wax, today they are usually made out of plastic.[1] The plastic models are mostly handmade from polyvinyl chloride and carefully sculpted to look like the actual dishes.[2] The models are custom-tailored to restaurants and even common items such as ramen will be modified to match each establishment's food.[3] During the molding process, the imitation ingredients are often chopped up and combined in a manner similar to actual cooking. The craftsmanship has been raised to an art form. Japanese plastic food by the Maizuru Company was exhibited at London's Victoria and Albert Museum in 1980.[3] Regular competitions are held in making fake food dishes out of plastic and other materials. The food displays are called sampuru (サンプル?), derived from the English word "sample". (Wikipedia: Fake Food in Japan)
The fake foods look like food from all angles, but they don't smell and touch like real food.  And, of course, you can't eat them.  In this case, the substance of food has changed and has turned into plastic.

3. Vegetarian Dishes

Vegetarians like Seventh Day Adventists do not eat meat.  So many times they used soya-based substitutes.  The other ingredients are the same, except for the meat.  So the tastes provide a good approximations of the real thing, but you still know that you are eating soy.  In this case, the substance of the food has changed because the meat is actually soy.

4.  Dog's Meat

When I was young, I found a food left in the cupboard.  It looks like caldereta to me--something like beef in tomato sauce.  I ate it and enjoyed it with rice.  Then my brother came.  And he told me that what I am eating is actually dog's flesh.  I nearly vomited and wont' eat anymore.  In this case, the substance of the food has changed: the substance of beef has been replaced by dog's flesh.

5. Transubstantiation of the Sacred Host

We have seen different examples of food transubstantiations, each one progressing in deceiving our senses: sight, smell, taste, touch--and maybe even hearing, too, for you can hear yourself chewing the food.  But the transubstantiation in the Sacred Host is far superior: all our five senses testify that what before us is just ordinary bread baked without yeast and pressed into little cakes. But the truth is, it is not anymore bread, though it appears, feels, and tastes like bread.  Rather, the substance of bread has been transformed into the substance of Christ.

Let us end this article with a quote from St. Aquinas's hymn for the Feast of Corpus Christi:
Tantum ergo Sacramentum Veneremur cernui: Et antiquum documentum Novo cedat ritui: Præstet fides supplementum Sensuum defectui. 
(Hence so great a Sacrament Let us venerate with heads bowed [cernui] And let the old practice [documentum] Give way to the new rite; Let faith provide a supplement For the failure of the senses.) (Wikipedia: Tantum Ergo)
Cross Monstrance with Luna
Cross Monstrance with Luna
Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture
Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture
Some Later Medieval Theories of the Eucharist: Thomas Aquinas, Gilles of Rome, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham
Some Later Medieval Theories of the Eucharist: Thomas Aquinas, Gilles of Rome, Duns Scotus, and William Ockham
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Food Photography & Lighting: A Commercial Photographer's Guide to Creating Irresistible Images
Food Photography & Lighting: A Commercial Photographer's Guide to Creating Irresistible Images
Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling
Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling
Fake Food. Shrimp Wonton with Noodles.
Fake Food. Shrimp Wonton with Noodles.
Vegetarian for a New Generation: Seasonal Vegetable Dishes for Vegetarians, Vegans, and the Rest of Us
Vegetarian for a New Generation: Seasonal Vegetable Dishes for Vegetarians, Vegans, and the Rest of Us
Mama Sita's Caldereta Spicy Sauce Mix, 1.76 Ounce (Pack of 72)
Mama Sita's Caldereta Spicy Sauce Mix, 1.76 Ounce (Pack of 72)